DJ Duo: Spinners banish the cold

DJ Third Degree and DJ Bovay

at Atomic Burrito
Saturday, January 22

The cold has come. Personally, I can't stand it. Any weather below 60 degrees is too chilly for my bones. Conversely, I was excited about the prospects of a heavy snowfall. Charlottesville always shuts down at the slightest notion of any extreme weather, thus giving me a reason to hole up in my apartment (in the warmth) and do absolutely nothing.

So there I was on the couch, absorbed in a classic shaolin kung fu flick when I got the call that a few buddies of mine were going to be spinning records at Atomic Burrito.

Atomic Burrito has been kind to local DJs. The place is small and quite cozy, an ideal spot for underground DJs who enjoy spinning mellow music or music geared more toward the cerebral and less toward the danceable. It has become a launching pad for up-and-coming DJs and a inviting lab for experienced spinners who need an audience to try out new techniques and just generally keep up their chops.

On the ride over, I cursed the weather with every expletive I could conjure. This is why all those settlers died of pneumonia (I believe they called it consumption) in colonial times. This is why birds fly south. This is why when old people retire they move to Florida and Williamsburg.

Anyway... on a positive note, Third Degree and Bovay were sharing the decks at Atomic, and that meant I was in for a few hours of some of the best underground hip-hop blended and mixed in just the right way.

When I arrived, the joint was packed to the point just before uncomfortable. DJ Bovay was cutting something fierce on the decks. A few heads crowded in close to his space to watch him work the fader like it owed him money. Bovay's choice of music usually falls into the category of late '90s and current independent or small label hip-hop.

I watched him fish through his crates for just the right record to come after the one currently spinning. Like a jazz musician who relies only on his sense of the music, Bovay innovates by blending songs on the fly, never cutting between tracks the same way twice. His set was completely improvised. Atomic Burrito had turned into the underground improv theatre for knocking beats.

The evening was definitely looking up now. I would have been disappointed if I had slogged through the chill for anything less than a great set by Bovay. Dude came through. Gracias, Senor.

DJ Third Degree slid on the tables next. His style tends to give you just the straight dope with very few frills. To be familiar with his catalogue, you have to know your stuff about indie hip-hop. Nonetheless, what he chooses to lay on the decks are the dopiest obscurities out there.

I'm a hip-hop junkie. So I pay close attention when I hear a DJ spin hot tracks that I've never heard. It's like a game... can I identify the voice of the rapper? The beat sounds kinda like that producer from Non Phixion... but MC's flow is different... that's definitely produced on an early model of the ASR10, so this is definitely some Bronx or Brooklyn cats... and... and... and... it just goes on and on.

All that happens in the first 16 bars of the song– my mind just getting sucked into something fresh and just wandering off in it. Coming back when the song really gets good. Good enough to send the thoughts soaring off again... so far... so good... so much that I forget that it's a cold, cold world outside.

DJ Bovay